Order-Taker or Order-Maker? 5 Things Contributing to Your Order-Taking Status

Sales leaders out there, how familiar does this sound? One of your salespeople (Willie Weakcloser) arrives at the office between 8:15 & 8:45 (like he does every day). He hasn’t been in the office before 8 AM since the first week he was hired – 12 years ago. 

It’s like Groundhog Day: He makes his way to his desk, turns on his computer, doesn’t even bother to check voice mail, goes for a cup of coffee, stops & talks to 2 people about the game last night, grabs his coffee, on his way back talks to 3 more people about the games this weekend, sits down, checks his email, makes a personal call, makes another personal call, texts a few buddies, too much coffee … better hit the bathroom, stops to bother someone on his way to the bathroom, grabs another coffee, back to his desk (but not before he bothers 2 more people), makes a few more personal calls, surfs the web, checks his Fantasy Team, goes to an internal meeting that lasts 3 times longer than it should, back to his desk, calls production to complain about something, eventually replies to an email, almost time for lunch, gets up & asks one of the people he likes to bother to go to lunch, another coffee, one more trip to the bathroom, back to his desk to kill a few minutes on the internet before lunch.

Don’t laugh. You know it’s true. Painfully true. 3.5 to 4 hours in the office & NOT ONE THING ACCOMPLISHED THAT LEADS TO GROWING YOUR BUSINESS. Not one thing. Here’s a guy that spends his time getting ready to take an order. Willie is nothing more than an expensive order-taker.

There can be a multitude of things causing this: He could be making more money than he ever dreamed of & doesn’t see a need to go out & sell more. He could not have enough to do (not enough accounts to call on). He could be better-suited for another position (not outside sales material). He could lack the competitive spirit that is so important for sales professionals. He likely has a very low level of desire, drive & commitment (also critical characteristics for sales professionals). Then again, he could be flat out lazy.

Willie will never admit any of these things. Talk to Willie & he’ll tell you he works his ass off. He’ll do his best to get you to believe that his job is hard, it’s not fair, he’s underpaid. You know Willie, he has all the answers on how to run the company. Willie is an authority on all things sales. Willie is an authority on everything. After all, Willie has 12 years of experience. Who knows more than Willie?

When it comes right down to it, Willie can’t sell his way out of a wet paper bag. Willie is an order-taker. Willie doesn’t have 12 years of experience. Willie has one year of experience 12 times. Willie is killing your company.

So, what do you do about it? Well, you’ve been living with it for years now, so there’s a good chance you aren’t going to do anything about it. But you know full well that you’d be better off with Willie working at your competitor. Perhaps that’s for another blog…

You certainly can put in systems & processes to ensure that the Willies of the world don’t make their way onto your sales team in the future. Let’s look at some things you can do keep the Willies away.

Here are 5 Things Contributing to Your Order-Taking Status:

1. Not Assessing Your Sales Candidates: Very often the things that lead to someone turning into an order-taker are uncovered in assessments (desire, drive & commitment to name three).

2. An Out-of-Balance Compensation Plan: How do you know if you are compensating your salespeople appropriately. If Willie is making more money than he ever dreamed of that’s great (if he earned it). Problem is there are many Willies that aren’t earning it. Their comp. plan is way off balance. Willie probably has a high salary & low bonus /commission structure. Willie is getting paid to NOT SELL. Start paying your sale team for performance & watch the order-takers weed themselves out.

3. Too Many Internal Meetings: Are you like most companies where you folks don’t buy from yourselves? Of course, you don’t. So, if you don’t buy from yourselves, why do you have so many internal meetings? Why so many meetings with yourselves? It gets ridiculous. Bet you can cut your meetings in half. That leaves a hell of a lot more time for Willie to check on his Fantasy Team (or go see customers).

 4. Not Maximizing Resources & Technology: Does Willie sync his desktop to his cell phone? Not that he has any sales calls… but if he did, would all his appointments be on his phone for easy access? Is he using your CRM system the way it’s intended? Does he duplicate efforts? Bet he writes things down, enters it somewhere & then re-enters it like a lot of other Willies that aren’t comfortable with technology. Huge waste of time.

 5. Not Prospecting for New Business: Good chance that Willie is unwilling to hunt for new business. He’s very comfortable with the status quo. He likes his current customers — they like him. They just don’t buy more new products — they order the usual. On top of that, Willie hates rejection — can’t stand the word no. He solves that problem very easily. He never hears it. Never puts himself in a position to be rejected. Can’t hear the word NO if you don’t go out & prospect for new business. Willie is a genius.

These are 5 of the many things that lead to a person like Willie becoming (& staying) an order-taker. Now, Willie is just one person. How many like him are on your sales team?

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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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